The face of social media has changed drastically since Friendster in 2002 and the social giant Facebook, burst onto the scene in 2004. The number and type of social media sites available has grown exponentially. Facebook and Twitter tend to dominate the social networking scene, while sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr facilitate content sharing among social media users. Google Plus offers a little bit of both. While young people have historically accounted for the lion’s share of the usage on these sites, the demographics across these popular social media sites continues to evolve.
By the end of 2012, Facebook had 1.06 billion registered users, with 618 million logging onto the site each and every day. Although the bulk of the early Facebook adopters were college-age students, a full 65 percent of those using Facebook today are 35 years and older. Women are also a dominant force on Facebook, accounting for a full 72 percent of those logging onto the site. How users access Facebook is also changing. Although 92 percent of Facebook users log on from a desktop or laptop computer, 54 percent also access the site from their cell phones and 19 percent from tablets.
When it comes to building brands, Facebook is the place to be. A full 79 percent of respondents to a 2012 Edison survey reported that they used Facebook more than any other social media site to connect to brands and products they like. Companies who are targeting specific ethnic groups should pay more attention to mobile users, as roughly one-third of all Latinos and African-Americans access social media sites via their cell phones compared to just 19 percent of Caucasians.
As of 2013, 200 million of Twitter’s 500 million users logged onto the site every day to exchange 140-character-or-less tweets. Even those who don’t use Twitter on a regular basis are exposed to it through the media, with four out of every ten Americans reporting that they read or heard about tweets each day from mainstream media sources.
Twitter’s user base is fairly diverse, but the site is especially appealing to young adults under the age of 30, those who reside in urban environments and African-Americans. Almost half of all Twitter users report having political tendencies that lean toward the Democratic party, and 62 percent of active Twitter users are female. Twitter is also one of the few social media sites that is regularly used by the growing Asian population.
By the end of 2012, the Google Plus (+) user base had grown 27 percent from the year before to 343 million active users. When it launched in 2011, it was mainly popular among young men, especially those considered “techies,” and that has not changed considerably. A full 67 percent of Google+ users are men between the ages of 18 and 34. Women are in the minority, but the ones who are active on Google+ are in the same age group. Although Google+ is gaining traction in India, its core base right now consists of middle-class Americans. Google+ Pages is helping the site to gain traction among social media sites as it is designed to facilitate interaction between its users and mainstream products, brands and companies. The interactivity of Google+ Hangouts will is rapidly finding is way among the converts and will help propel this exciting platform.
Pinterest’s user base of 25 million people continues to enjoy its popularity with women. In fact, 72 percent of active Pinterest users are women up to the age of 50 . Pew Research Center also reports that Caucasians with at least some college education dominate the Pinterest user base. Users also tend to be fairly affluent, with incomes of at least $50,000 per year. While companies may not make many sales on Pinterest, they can certainly build brand awareness. In addition. Pinterest is reported to be the source of more referral traffic to sites than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined.
Photo-sharing site Instagam has a user base that is young and diverse. A full 28 percent of its user base is between the ages of 18 and 29, while 13 percent are between 30 and 49. This content sharing site is dominated by a female audience, although the percentage of male users is much higher than that of Pinterest. Instagram is also very popular with Latinos, African-Americans and those who live in urban areas.